Taoiseach expresses concern on divisive language ‘pitting one group against another’ over housing

Independent TD Mattie McGrath says 82 homes for Ukrainian refugees being built in Co Tipperary, not 62 as per original plan

Taoiseach Simon Harris said he was worried about the “language of division” used by Independent TD Mattie McGrath in “pitting one group of people against another”.

He made the comments in the Dáil after the Rural Independents leader pointed to plans for the building of 82 modular homes for Ukrainian refugees in Clonmel, and said the money would be better used catering for the 400 people who presented in Tipperary last year as homeless.

But the Taoiseach told him that there are now fewer Ukrainian people in State accommodation.

Far from “giving the narrative that the situation is worsening” it was “very significantly improving”, he said.


Mr McGrath said the initial figure they heard was that 62 modular homes would be built in the Co Tipperary town, but through Freedom of Information requests and parliamentary questions he discovered that it was 82 homes.

“A lot of investigative work has been carried [out on the site] – topography, drainage and everything else – and we have 400 people presented as homeless in Tipperary last year.”

He said that according to reports it could cost “up to €33 million, costing €407,000 each. This is outrageous money”, he said, adding it should be used “to house our own people”.

He said that in Tipperary “we want €2.5 million to keep the N24 Cahir to Waterford project alive”.

Mr McGrath added that he had met the Parkinson’s Society, cardiovascular and disability groups on Wednesday morning, “all looking for small monies”.

But there was “money to spend on modular homes for Ukrainian refugees. Where’s it going to end?”

The Taoiseach said “that language just worries me in relation to pitting one group of people against another in society”.

When Mr McGrath intervened and said he was asking about the issues, Mr Harris replied that “your language worries me, not the issues”.

He added that “the language of division is not healthy, but that’s my opinion”.

The Taoiseach then gave some figures on accommodation for Ukrainian refugees who have fled the war in their homeland.

“There are around 175 fewer Ukrainian people each week in State accommodation. So far from giving the narrative that the situation is worsening in relation to Ukrainian people, it’s actually very significantly improving.”

He told Mr McGrath that in relation to Mr McGrath’s specific constituency issues he would raise them with the line Minister.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times